Aid agencies scale up Storm Ana response amid floods and rising death toll

Madagascar, Malawi and Mozambique worst affected with 77 people reported dead and 80,000 more forced from their homes

Humanitarian agencies have mounted an emergency response across southern Africa this week as the death toll from tropical Storm Ana reached 77.

Officials reported that at least 41 people had been killed in Madagascar, 18 in Mozambique and 11 in Malawi. The EU’s aid agency Echo said on Thursday that at least 350,000 people have been affected across the three countries, including more than 80,000 displaced from their homes. Flooding has cut off roads and damaged power and water supplies.

The storm passed over Zimbabwe, but no deaths have been reported.

Aid agencies have set up dozens of temporary sites to house those made homeless. Unicef said it is deploying staff to set up temporary learning centres as well as distribute food, medicine and water purification tablets in Mozambique.

The agency said 12 health facilities and 137 schools had been damaged by the storm in Mozambique, forcing more than 27,000 children out of school. It estimated $3.5m (£2.6m) was needed to respond to the storm.

A spokesperson for the World Food Programme said the agency had been preparing for this year’s cyclone season when the storm hit the region on Monday.

“Storm Ana has brought heavy rains and flooding in Madagascar, Mozambique and Malawi. Agricultural land, key infrastructure and houses have been damaged, and lives and livelihoods lost,” said the spokesperson.

“Southern African countries have been repeatedly struck by severe storms and cyclones in recent years that have impacted food security, destroyed livelihoods and displaced large numbers of people.”

In 2019, Cyclone Idai caused devastation across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, affecting millions of people.

The Madagascar Red Cross Society said flooding, which was worse in slum areas and for more fragile homes made with earth walls and thatched roofs, had destroyed many people’s food stocks.

Cristina Uamusse, secretary general of the Mozambican Red Cross Society, said early action taken to pre-empt the storms had helped limit the damage.

“We have been working with communities for many years and have seen what a significant difference pre-positioned stock movement from provinces to districts make on our response time to community needs,” she said.

WaterAid said it is concerned about the spread of disease if water sources have been contaminated by flooding.

Malawi’s government has declared a state of natural disaster after electricity cuts caused by flooding at power stations.

“Our priority now is restoring power to health establishments, water treatment distribution systems, and schools,” the national power utility said in a statement.

Maria Luisa Fornara, the Unicef representative in Mozambique, said: “This latest storm to hit Mozambique is a blunt reminder that the climate crisis is very much a reality and children are most impacted by climate-related severe weather events.”

Unicef said Mozambique has faced eight tropical storms since 2016.


Kaamil Ahmed

The GuardianTramp

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